Saudi Gazette, Friday, June 23, 2017
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are now in the midst
of the wonderful month
of the year. Ramadan
is not only about ab-
staining from eating, drinking and
other worldly desires from sunrise to
sunset, it is also about reminding us
to check if we need any changes in
our behavior and personality.
Modesty is not only about dressing
well in public; it’s about being humble,
polite and gracious.
These days, people who are pres-
tigious and show off outside seem
to be more attractive than people
who remain calm and composed in
nature. Modesty is reflected in the
way we present ourselves and how
we treat others.
Let’s treat others the way we
would like to be treated.
Allah does not like those who are
proud and have a big ego. When ego
rises, modesty falls. Whatever success
Allah has given you in life, be thankful
and happy. Remember he can take
it back in the blink of an eye. Do not
take benefits for granted and boast
about your family, your accomplish-
ment and your wealth in social me-
dia. Allah doesn’t like those who are
proud. So be thankful and be modest.
To forgive and forget
Forgiveness is not an easy task. It
takes a strong soul to forgive some-
one from the bottom of one’s heart.
Ramadan is the best month to seek
forgiveness, to apologize or to confess
anything to anyone.
Forgiving someone is not for the
other person’s sake, it’s for our own
mental comfort. Instead of letting
anger and a grudge grow inside us,
why not forgive someone and forget
It’s a noble attitude to pray to
Almighty for the person with whom
we have quarreled or with whom any
misunderstanding has occurred. Life
becomes easier if we practice the
habit of forgiving.
Gossiping and loose talk
I admit that in the era of boom-
ing social media channels such as
WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, we
cannot seem to keep our mouths shut
and ears closed. We often feel our
opinion matters and that we know
everything. Many of us engage in
gossip even without knowing it.
It can be about any friend, com-
panion or any family member. Al-
though it can be unintentional, words
flow through our mouth as though we
know everything. Allah says in the Holy
Qur’an to stay away from backbiting,
gossiping and mocking conversations.
How can we stay away from gos-
sip? Before we speak, think twice
about whether what we are sharing
about the third party is right, if it will
have a positive or negative effect
and if it will hurt the concerned party
and spoil goodwill.
Intentions should be pure, rational
We pray to the Almighty, donate
to the poor and needy, perform our
pilgrimage, help others when in need
and so on. All of these actions are
based on some intentions.
How do we know if our intentions
are pure? If our thoughts and actions
are to gain popularity and public im-
age, then we are wrong. If we are
trying to impress people to get fame
and increase our pride, then we need
to purify our intentions. Remember,
the recognition that we get from the
people around us is nothing in front of
Allah. Do good deeds from the heart
and not from a wicked mind.
Care for parents, elders at home
In the hustle and bustle life of to-
day, we often forget to express our
gratitude and concern to our parents,
elder brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts
without whom we would not have
become what we are today. Do not
wait for mother’s day and father’s day
to buy gifts for your parents or elders.
Spend time with them, talk to them,
listen to their past memories, pray with
them and make them feel secure. In
this busy life, we often forget to talk to
people in the family and time over-
takes us. But we have time to spend
hours on WhatAapp and Facebook
texting to new acquaintances.
Make this Ramadan a great op-
portunity to reconnect with family
members and create positive vibra-
tions at home. Take a few minutes in
each day to reach out to your near
and dear ones.
Praying for others
We often get a request from peo-
ple to pray for them, especially when
we go to Umrah, but do we pray for
all of them? When we pray for oth-
ers in Ramadan, we get double fold
benefits. So make it a habit to pray
for your kith and kin. Pray even for the
people who have a grudge against
you; it brings you rewards. Pray for the
people who suffer and are oppressed.
If you want Allah to be merciful to
you, be merciful to others.
Keep social media away
|Although being disconnected
from social media is hard nowadays,
we can make an effort to stay away
from it as long as possible. Social me-
dia applications like Facebook, What-
sApp, Twitter and Instagram are not a
replacement for life. It is difficult to be
offline, but at least we can try in Ra-
madan. Put the phone down and try
to spend time with the people around
you. Do not think that you can multi-
task by operating the phone why you
listen to your spouse or children.
Ramadan is the time for thought,
action and change. Let’s utilize these
holy days to uplift our spirit, ignite our
minds, create universal brotherhood
and bring about a better world.
Life behind Israel’s checkpoints
conflict has its heroes.
In Palestine they’re the taxi
After living for half a centu-
ry under occupation, I can no longer
endure the anxiety of what might ap-
pear on the road, whether it is angry
drivers bottlenecked at the hundreds
of barriers scattered through the West
Bank or the pathetic boys who throw
themselves at your car pretending to
clean the windshield, asking for mon-
ey. The plight of these boys invariably
makes me hate myself, forcing me to
confront the extent to which my soci-
ety has failed. Then, of course, there is
the indignity of having to wait on the
whim of an Israeli teenage soldier to
motion me to pass.
But perhaps the main reason I
stopped driving out of Ramallah is
that the roads Israel built to link the
Jewish settlements with Israel have re-
placed the familiar old roads, making
the whole network so confusing that I
often get lost. And this is the greatest
indignity of all, getting lost in your own
This is why I began asking Hani to
drive me in his taxi. Patient, and well
tempered, he also possesses the sig-
nal virtue of punctuality.
Not long ago, he drove me to the
airport. I was going to London for a
week, and my flight was at 5 in the
afternoon. Twenty years ago, the
drive took 50 minutes. Now, with so
many checkpoints on the way, I left
the house at noon, five hours before
I held my breath when we passed
the first checkpoint. Hani does not lie,
not even to soldiers. Though he lives
leaved old olive trees.
Then Hani spoke again: “And
yet some of these soldiers manning
the checkpoints have a heart.” I re-
membered something he’d told me
in the past, about a soldier who had
noticed him coming to a checkpoint,
getting checked, leaving and return-
ing again and again in the same day.
“He finally asked me whether I ever
get tired of all this. I could tell that he
genuinely felt for me.”
“And what did you say to him?”
“I didn’t want him to pity me, so I
turned it back on him, saying that if I
didn’t keep on going back and forth,
he would be out of work.”
We were approaching the check-
point. I put on my glasses to make sure
I was reading the sign right. It said,
“This crossing is reserved only for Israe-
lis,” including, in fine print, those en-
titled under the Law of Return of 1950.
I looked at Hani. The sheen of per-
spiration was now visible on his brow,
too. How had it come to this? What
was the point of traveling all the way
to London to tell others about injustice
when I was so enmeshed in the logic
of occupation that the possibility that
I might be stopped at a checkpoint
sent me into such panic? We drove
through the checkpoint in compan-
ionable silence. He endured and will
endure as he has for the past 20 years.
I must do the same. We cannot afford
to abandon the struggle and must do
what we can to end this occupation,
before it succeeds in destroying us all.
The New York Times
Raja Shehadeh is a lawyer.
in Jerusalem, is fluent in Hebrew and
could easily pass for a Jew, he never
says he lives in one of the settlements.
We needed to get to the highway at
Dolev, a Jewish settlement. It’s less
than six miles from Ramallah, but the
road between them has long been
closed to Palestinian traffic. Our de-
tour took about 45 minutes, down a
winding, single-lane road. When we
reached the highway, we found that
the Israeli Army had placed concrete
barrier blocks there, preventing Pales-
tinian access to this road as well.
We stood there, wondering what
to do, while the settlers’ cars and
buses zoomed by. Hani then picked
up his mobile phone and called a
colleague to find out how it was at
the Qalandiya crossing leading to
Jerusalem, at least an hour away.
“It’s very bad,” he was told. His
friend said he had been held up for
two hours. Hani was also informed
that the checkpoint we were head-
ing to, near the village of Ni’lin, was
also closed to most Palestinians.
He turned to me with a look of
desperation: “We have no choice
but to try going through the Rantis
The problem was that only Israeli cit-
izens and Palestinians with entry permits
were allowed through there. “If we’re
stopped, I could get in trouble for at-
tempting to smuggle you through, and
you might end up being detained,”
Hani said. “Or if they want to be kind,
they might simply send us back. But
then there would be no possibility that
you’ll make it in time for your flight.
What do you say? Shall we risk it?”
“Not much choice,” I said with as
much confidence as I could muster.
“Let’s risk it.” I said this knowing that I
was taking not only an individual risk
but also one on behalf of Hani.
Now we had to find a different ac-
cess point to get on the main road.
Another taxi drove by, saw that the
road was closed and began turning
around. Hani flashed his lights. The two
drivers consulted, and Hani learned
that the other driver knew another
route. We proceeded to follow him for
another 45 minutes, wandering from
one Palestinian village to another, until
we finally found an unpaved opening
on the side of the road that had not
been blocked by the Army.
How I wish I were fatalistic, some-
one who tells himself I did all I could
and now will leave my destiny to
fate. But I’m not like that. I start eat-
ing myself up, even blaming myself
for the occupation. I tried to assure
myself that it wouldn’t be the end of
the world if I didn’t get on the flight. I
was only going to do a series of talks
on human rights. Perhaps I should stay
put in my house and give up traveling
altogether. But so much had gone
into the planning of this week, so
many people were involved. Would
they understand why I hadn’t made
it? Would they appreciate the compli-
cations of our life under occupation?
The closer we got to the check-
point, the more anxious I felt. Fret-
ting, in turn, makes me look guilty, as
though I were smuggling a bomb or
going on a violent mission. Hani could
see how tense I was. But he was too
polite to tell me to take it easy. In-
stead, he tried to distract me by telling
me one story after another. He was
a good raconteur; still, most of the
stories he told me were about check-
points, a Palestinian vein of narrative
that is almost inescapable.
“Imagine this,” he said. “Once, I
was going to the Allenby Bridge. It was
very hot and there was a long wait
at a checkpoint. When my turn finally
came, an Israeli soldier came over
and asked whether I often came this
way. I answered that I did.
“ ‘Will you be coming back this
way?’ he asked.
“I said I would.
“ ‘Don’t stand in line. Come
straight through, because I want to
speak to you.’
“On the way back I didn’t jump the
long queue as he had told me to do.
When I got to where he was standing
he asked me, ‘Why didn’t you do as I
told you?’ I said I always wait in line. He
then asked for my telephone number,
saying he wanted to talk to me.”
Hani gave him a fake number, but
he immediately called it and heard no
ring. He demanded the right number,
and Hani had no choice.
Later, “he called and proposed
that I meet with him,” Hani said. “I
knew what he wanted and told him I
was not that sort of man. He said he
could help me so I wouldn’t have to
wait in line anymore but would be
able to go straight through. In return,
he wanted me to tell him who the
troublemakers were in the Jerusalem
neighborhood where I live, and he’d
reward me. I told him I didn’t need his
help and hung up.”
As we neared the checkpoint, I
saw that the land on both sides of
the road was cultivated with silver-